“Our hope is that the extension gives taxpayers with difficult circumstances, including filings made more complicated by various relief programs and employment changes, the extra the time they may need,” Gov. Phil Murphy said in the March 19 announcement.
The IRS’s decision came days earlier on March 17, as the federal government gauges the full scope of COVID-19’s economic impact on the nation. Tax filings have lagged this year, prompting the March 17 announcement.
“This continues to be a tough time for many people, and the IRS wants to continue to do everything possible to help taxpayers navigate the unusual circumstances related to the pandemic, while also working on important tax administration responsibilities,” reads a statement last week from IRS Commissioner Chuck Retting.
Tax season started on Feb. 12, and as of the week ending March 12, the IRS received 66 million returns and processed 58.5 million of them, according to federal data. That’s compared to 76.2 million returns received and 73.5 million processed as of the same time last year.
Because of this, the national and state accounting trade groups have also been pushing for a deadline extension, both by the IRS and the Murphy administration.
And a bill had been introduced in the state Legislature to extend the deadline, but the New Jersey Treasury Department was able to go ahead and make those changes without an enabling bill from lawmakers.
New Jersey Treasurer Elizabeth Maher Muoio said the COVID-19 recession triggered the executive branch’s ability to make the unilateral decision.
Senate Budget Chair Paul Sarlo, D-36th, who introduced the bill extending the deadline, praised the Friday move, saying it would “give taxpayers breathing room to account for all the changes in what is becoming one of the most complicated tax seasons in decades.”
Last year, Murphy and the state Legislature agreed to extend the filing deadline for state income and business taxes from April 15 to July 15, after the federal IRS offered the same extension.
As part of the annual budget process – which has to be wrapped up by the end of the day on June 30 – the state Treasury would typically present lawmakers with the numbers in May they gauge from the tax filing deadlines. It’s not clear how this one-month delay could affect the state budget process, which has to be wrapped up by June 30 each year.